Quietly

She pushed her fingers against her lips and stared at her sister. They could only play quietly after dark. It was an important rule. They could play, but it had to be done without noise. Their father was not one to be disturbed. Most of the time, Lana liked to pretend that she were living inside of a giant vacuum, and that no sound would push its way out of her lips.

Her sister, however, was a different story.

Margot didn’t like to be still or quiet when she played. She was a giant ball of energy that could barely be contained by her own skin. It was hard to believe that the two of them had been born sisters, let alone twins. Pushing their way out of the womb at such an early age, both fragile little beings who were inexorably intertwined. Their mother told them that she hadn’t known there were two. Being too poor to afford to go to the doctor had caused her to miss out on this knowledge until it was too late, until both of them were pushing their way out into the world.

Lana supposed that was why there was a distance between the two of them and her; a gulf none of them could not bridge. The man they called dad was just a substitute, and a poor one at that. When Lana was sure they were safe, she turned her attention back to the game, moving her doll to a corner of the collective, turning their vacant stares to the wall. When she swung her arm back, one of the dolls fell off the bed, landing on the floor with a thud that echoed across the silent house.

Margot grabbed her arm and held her tight when they heard the floorboards creak. Her breath burned in her lungs and she remembered her mother leaning over them whispering, “Quietly” in her whiskey burnt voice before tucking them into bed and holding onto the doorframe. It was the one word that echoed through her head over and over again as she stared into her sister’s eyes in the darkness.

Quietly.

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